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Bald By Choice

Heroes in their communities are coming together to help the heroes in the fight against cancer.

Who is more vain about their hair? Men or Women?

Feel free to debate that one until the center of the earth turns into a snowball. Given a choice between locks and life, however, there really isn't much of a choice.

I guess I can count myself lucky that I'm not going through traditional chemotherapy treatment, with all the side effects: nausea, hair loss, etc. I'm losing my hair fast enough as it is — probably from stress. Maybe if I stopped pulling my hair every time I saw someone do something stupid on the road…

A few of my friends have gone through chemo and lost all or some of their hair. The good news is it grew back and the chemo seems to have worked. A lucky few chemo patients can find wigs, some donated by groups that make them from real hair.

Some other chemo patients are blessed to just look great bald — I'm jealous.

In a wonderful charity event on Saturday, family members, doctors, patients, police officers, firefighters and more shed their locks to support the 5th annual St. Baldrick's fundraiser at Children's Hospital and Research Center Oakland.

Volunteers young and old, male and female, shaved their heads to honor children who lose their hair as a result of chemotherapy, a treatment used to help fight cancer. Heroes from the Oakland Police Department and Fire Department stepped into the barber chair to help bring awareness to the event.

One of the most touching scenes was a father who shaved his head to support his little girl who was losing her hair as a result of chemotherapy treatment. He was virtually in tears as he explained how brave she's been through the whole process since she was diagnosed with leukemia.

Last year’s event raised more than $154,000 and more than 200 women, men, and children went bald. This year’s event raised $149,096, beating the goal of $100,000. Funds raised from the event benefit Children's Hospital Oakland’s Hematology/Oncology department. The event was co-sponsored by the Keaton Raphael Memorial.

Cancer is the No. 1 disease killer of children. It is estimated that 160,000 children, worldwide, are diagnosed with cancer every year.

There is one other thing: While bald might be beautiful, it can also be cold in this weather. If you are interested in helping to provide caps, hats, wigs, scarves, or whatever to cancer patients in the Marin County community, please let me know and I'll try to get you in touch with the proper folks. I'd love to see our community come together for a project like this.

Just some extra notes here from the Center for Integrative Health & Wellness:

• The Center for Integrative Health & Wellness at the Marin Cancer Institute is hosting a healthy eating class: "Spice It Up! Reduce Inflamation." The tasty program is Thursday, March 22, at 5:30 p.m. The fee is $35.

• There will be a free presentation, "What's Your Gut Telling You?" on Thursday, March 29, at 6 p.m. Listen to your digestive system as it can clue you in when your body is out of whack.

• The Center is still in the running for grant money from Lance Armstrong’s LIVESTRONG organization. 

Vote now by clicking on each link below and hit the yellow VOTE NOW button.

1)   Pillars4Life
http://vote.livestrong.org/vote2012/applicants/140-marin-general-hospital-foundation-p4l/

A virtual patient/caregiver support program that has been proven to enhance quality-of-life for cancer patients and that allows hospitals and their social workers to more efficiently triage and attend to the psychosocial needs of a much greater number of patients…all from the comfort of their own homes.

2)   Hospital Artist in Residence Program
http://vote.livestrong.org/vote2012/applicants/80-marin-general-hospital-foundation-tcc/

Bringing the arts to people with cancer, chronic illness and through all stages of life as a way to help them discover their own creative resources while meeting the challenges of diagnosis, treatment and survivorship.

Here are a few more resources for cancer patients and their loved ones:

Carcinoid Cancer Foundation

Caring for Carcinoid Foundation

Carcinoid Cancer Awareness Network

Carcinoid.com

Stanford Medicine Cancer Institute

Cedars-Sinai Hospital, Los Angeles

Marin Cancer Institute

University Hospital, Basel, Switzerland

Jimmy V Foundation

American Cancer Society

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